Tag Archives: AHL

National Hockey Lockout

Award for lameness. The lockout will have reverberations in varied degrees depending on its duration. If players are bailing immediately, the fans are sure to follow. Maintaining a billion dollar industry with no provider and no customer won’t hold back a backlash.

NCAA and AHL hockey will see a profit, and those neighbordhood junior leagues will benefit from new spectators. The fans want hockey. The game of hockey is why fans pay to see the game,  not to buy a pretzel and a key chain. Going to a game, supporting your team is tradition for most recalling classic memories. If food and trinkets call you to the game, then you really are not a hockey fan.

This work stoppage has sent Evgeny Malkin and Sergei Gonchar packing for home signing deals with Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Pittsburgh Penguins roster got lighter as Sidney Crosby’s agent made an inquiry to the KHL so Sid the Kid won’t hit a skid this season. Yannick Weber and Mark Streit sign in Switzerland, Christian Ehrhoff heads to Germany, so who will next to send a message to the NHL?  Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin, that’s who. Patrick Berglund will play for free in Sweden and the exodus continues.

Shane Doan’s contract was wrapped up with a 4-year deal in Phoenix as the Coyotes arena deal looked positive and possible. Now, that’s all gone for those few fans who eagerly anticipated the return of their desert dogs.

The owners are the only people who really want this lockout. They lose money but hope to gain. This tactic is a way to keep the lid on grandstanding in the future with ludicrous multi-year contracts that escalate as the player deflates. Even NHL players are expendable. Perhaps this is a passive technique to rid the tough guy world of whiners and embellish-makers.

It’s a bittersweet farewell to NHL veterans Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson who will not get a grand farewell if the season isn’t salvaged.

We’ll all laugh about this went the lockout gives way by November, right? We’ll all be cautious and snagging some of those promotional tickets the NHL teams will have to fork over to win back the loyal.

The lockout is lame because it’s the same issue in any workplace- administration vs. staff. Rarely do the two sides ever see the same problem or the same solution. Negotiation must end on a win-win, and that is not happening soon at any percentage rate.

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly will forego salaries this season, and the NHL employees will go to a 4-day work week to save money. The Florida Panthers let go of their mascot and the damages to the profits continue. What was the point of all of this again?

Remember these great moments?

or this great moment for the Rangers/Devils fans?


National Hockey Lame. Positives in all of this: no Paulina Gretzky and Nickelback.

Devils Delight in Opening Night

It wasn’t Newark or Hoboken, but it was the home of the Albany Devils, the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, where the win over the New York Rangers revitalized a new Devils era in the Garden State.

The future is looking bright for the New Jersey Devils as they beat the New York Rangers, 2-1, in preasesaon action. For the first time since 1996, the Devils, who have won three Stanley Cup titles since 1995, did not make the postseason last year. This year the chances of a preseason playoff berth is clearly up for grabs.

Petr Sykora, a Stanley Cup winner for the Devils in 2000, scored the first goal in the Devils-Rangers preseason opener. Sykora, who hasn’t  played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season, was invited to Devils training camp.

New head coach DeBoer’s style was introduced during training camp and encouraged more open ice skating.

Defenseman Andy Greene likes the new direction. The Devils re-signed Andy Greene to a 4-year, $12 million despite his 14-point decline and a minus-23. Greene remains a conisitent puck-moving player on the blue line:

“Obviously, it’s still pretty early, but we all like the type of style that he wants us to play. It’s fast paced and up tempo, and that’s a style I really like. It encourages us to play freer and that’s a plus.”

DeBoer, previously the coach of the Florida Panthers from 2008-2011, led the Panthers to a 30-40-12 record and was dismissed at the end of the season.

Second-year forward Jacob Josefson added,  “I like the high-tempo practices. I like the fast pace. It makes you feel like you’ve been on the ice for a long time, but you really haven’t. Obviously, he has a game plan that he believes in and it’s up to us players to get into it. Things are definitely looking up this year.”

Rookie Adam Larsson has become the new defensive hope of the New Jersey Devils. The 18-year old rookie will have some veteran defenseman assiting in what should make for an intersting year. Returing veteran defenders include:  Henrik Tallinder (16 points, minus-6), Anton Volchenkov (125 hits in 57 games) and Bryce Salvador, who missed the 2010-11 season with an inner ear ailment.

Adam Larsson

Adam Larsson

Placing Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrick Elias up front gives the Devils a front line to be reckoned with if the thin blue line can hold the army back. Travis Zajac is predicted to make a mid-season return. And if Andy Larsson does play in Jersey this season, he’ll give Parise a break from the matinee idol hysteria.

Zach Parise

Zach Parise

Kisses from the All-Stars

With a fantasy draft divvying up the All-Star roster, both Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom became team captains of Team Staal and Team Lidstrom. Hometown fans and Hurricanes’ holler wasn’t enough to pull out the win for Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal’s NHL All-Star team, Team Staal, who lost by a goal to Team Lidstrom. The four-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, Nicklas Lidstrom, led his team to victory over Team Staal, 11-10.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out with injuries, but we celebrate them all year. This game was a chance for the other players to gain their deserved recognition. And with that, here are a few highlights from the NHL portion in Raleigh, N.C.

Alex Ovechkin made the first goal of the night and the first faux pas for Team Staal. Ovechkin drew the first All-Star penalty shot when he threw his stick in front of the path of Team Lidstrom’s Matt Duchene on a breakaway. Odd play- looks like Ovechkin lost grip or made the sabotage allowing the stick to slide quite a distance on the ice right past the Avalanche forward. Duchene missed the shot against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If I were a cartoonist, I would have a blast sketching devil horns on Ovechkin and angel wings on Duchene. Or King Henry knighting Duchene as Ovi stretches on the rack.

And now to the defending Stanley Cup Champs time on the ice- Team Staal’s victory was Patrick Sharp winning a new car and named All-Star MVP for his goal and two assists. Chicago Blackhawks teammates, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane claimed the win with Team Lidstrom. Done.

Carolina Hurricane’s forward Jeff Skinner was the youngest NHL All-Star to play in the NHL at 18 years, 259 days, beating Steve Yzerman’s previous record in 1984 by just eight days. Many of the veterans tried to set Skinner up for a goal, but not go. Glad to see Skinner cheered by an awesome group of fans. If anyone doubts that the southeast can support hockey, I beg to differ. Raleigh and Charlotte have made a commitment to hockey playing within the zone of Ovechkin, Byfuglien, and Stamkos. A zone that has not yet been capitalized, teams with low attendance like in Atlanta need to grow or do more marketing. The rumors of Atlanta possibly shifting to Quebec or Winnipeg rouse the loyal in Canada. But if Bettman chooses to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, rather than support the Atlanta Thrashers, the commish must have tee time in Scottsdale often with the NHL players who have retired there.

All-Star games are a celebration of the best talent of the year. Anze Kopitar, Danny Briere and Loui Eriksson scored two apiece for Team Lidstrom. Adding one each were Toews, Dustin Byfuglien, Duchene, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Staal and Letang each had two goals for Team Staal while Ovechkin Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias, Claude Giroux, Sharp and Rick Nash added the others.

Speed puck champ, Zdeno Chara, had two assists for Team Staal. Chara won the puck speed skill competition with105.9, shattering his old record of 105.4 in 2009.

Meanwhile, in Hershey with dancing mascots of chocolates kisses and a plethora of other chocolate delights, the AHL honored their best-of-the-best. Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators was chosen MVP with a goal, 3 assists and a plus-4 rating. Amazing to note that last year’s AHL MVP was Tyler Ennis who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, and a few years prior, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell took the honors.

Bruce Boudreau, Olaf Kolzig and the current AHL President Dave Andrews reminisced on their time in the AHL and the importance of their experience. All commented on the friendships made while playing in the AHL and the torture of travel, notably the 14-hour bus trips from Halifax to Portland. Most AHL players will never get to the NHL, but if you get to play hockey as your job instead of sitting in a cubicle pushing papers, you’ve done good.

All-Stars Shining Bright

The NHL All-Star weekend kicks off in Raleigh, and both Crosby and Malkin will be missing. This makes room for the Carolina Hurricanes to showcase the talents of Jeff Skinner and Jamie McBain. Skinner has been added to the Staal team, and McBain will participate in the skills competition. Nice to see Paul Stastny added as the second representative for the Colorado Avalanche, a fantastic model for the young gunners found in many new teams, including Carolina.

The NHL Network will have a two-hour special starting at 6 p.m. EST on Friday, then the skills competition on Saturday, followed by the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.

While the festivities in Raleigh rage, the AHL is putting on the Ritz in Hershey Jan. 30-31. The 2011 AHL All-Star Skills Competition is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 30, and the 2011 AHL All-Star Game at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 31. As a hockey enthusiast, the AHL weekend is a surge to highlight the players who may be sitting on an NHL roster near you. Included in the selections of 31 first-time AHL All-Stars and 11 rookies, with roots at the University of Denver and the Big Ten worth taking a look at.

AHL rookie scoring leader Rhett Rakhshani of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and formerly of DU is an exciting player to follow. His name sent a rush through the crowd at the Ritchie Center in Denver. I witnessed Rakhshani’s talent that was evident of a great future career in hockey.

Other notables to watch and take notes:
*Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators
*Goaltender Jake Allen of the Peoria Rivermen
*Martin Jones, goaltender of the Manchester Monarchs.

Grand Rapids Griffins and former University of Wisconsin defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist, Brendan Smith, is absolutely a player to watch. He signed an entry-level contract in 2007 with the Detroit Red Wings, so keep your eye on his skills and his career.

Other notable players who played in the AHL All-Star game last season, and worth taking note:
*Syracuse Crunch goaltender, Kyle Palmieri
*John Moore, defenseman for the Springfield Falcons
*Corey Locke of Binghamton, who is the all-time leading scorer in the AHL All-Stars and the AHL leading scorer.
*Dustin Jeffrey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Center who has some time on the ice with the Pittsburgh Penguin.

From the Southeast Division, note these players with time in the NHL:

*Andrew Gordon, winger for Hershey and the Washington Capitals
*Bryan Rodney, of the Charlotte Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes

These AHL players are crucial to the success of the NHL and many have seen ice time with their respective franchises. Enjoy a weekend full of hockey!